By Ruth Bayang
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
A panel of advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has endorsed the widespread use of new COVID-19 vaccines, amid a resurgence in cases of the respiratory illness.
The advisers voted Tuesday, 13-1, in favor of recommending these vaccines for all individuals aged 6 months and older. While the greatest benefits appear to be for the youngest and oldest age groups, the analysis conducted by the CDC showed that the benefits of vaccination exceed the risks for everyone.
On Monday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave the thumbs up to the updated COVID-19 vaccines, which are designed to provide better protection against the latest versions of the coronavirus and to help prevent a possible increase in cases during the upcoming fall and winter.
That means that most Americans can now get the updated shots from Moderna and Pfizer, even if they haven’t had a COVID-19 vaccine before. The idea is to make getting a COVID-19 vaccine in the fall a regular thing, similar to how people get a flu shot every year.
Novavax, another company making COVID-19 vaccines, is still waiting for the FDA to review their updated vaccine.
The new shots could become available as soon as Wednesday in some parts of the country. They’re not technically free anymore, but for most people insurance will pay for them. The federal government will make the shots available for the uninsured at no cost.
COVID-19 cases in hospitals have been increasing since late summer, but not as much as they did this time last year. That’s because people who got vaccinated or were infected with the virus before still have some protection.
To prepare for the fall season when viruses like the flu and COVID-19 can spread more easily, Dr. John Lynch, a University of Washington (UW) Medicine infectious disease specialist, recommends getting the flu vaccine before mid-October to be safe.
“Getting the flu shot doesn’t just prevent you from getting sick. It also helps you avoid trips to the emergency room, clinic visits, hospital stays, and even going to the ICU or, worst-case scenario, dying.”
It’s hard to predict exactly when the flu or COVID-19 will spread the most. Lynch says we should be cautious and ready for anything.
“We don’t really know how bad things will get or when, but last year, we had peaks in flu, RSV, and COVID all at once, which made things really tough for everyone.”
Some people worry about getting the flu shot and a COVID-19 shot at the same time. But Dr. Lynch says it’s safe and won’t make either vaccine work less effectively. In fact, getting both vaccines together can protect you from both the flu and COVID-19, which is a good thing and reduces your chances of getting seriously sick.
For more information, visit kingcounty.gov/en/legacy/depts/health and click on “Get COVID-19 vaccine.”
This health series is made possible by funding from the Public Health – Seattle & King County, which has no editorial input or oversight of this content.